Geographic Dispersion

Introduction

As industrial enterprises look to adopt IoT, it becomes increasingly clear that traditional approaches for management and security do not translate to IoT. Geographically-dispersed devices still need to be managed together. As the number and different types of devices increase, this becomes extremely complicated. The operational approaches for management and security used in enterprise networks, where most hosts are densely contained in buildings or campuses, do not translate to the IoT.

What Isn’t Working

Devices located in multiple locations will likely be connected to the Internet via a variety of technologies and providers, such as 3G, LTE, WiFi, etc., Due to this, the devices’ IP addresses will change at arbitrary times, particularly if the device is mobile. Any configuration based on these IPs will require continuous upkeep and will often be out-of-date, making the devices difficult to manage as well as exposing them to external threats.

Most enterprise edge networks consist of legacy objects, sensors and actuators and must deal with the following challenges:

  • Enterprise data center-based security approaches do not work for dispersed objects at the edge.
  • Dispatching technicians for provisioning and maintenance is expensive, so reliable, remote configuration is neccessary.
  • A diverse set of of list-mile connectivity technologies and providers, including WiFi and LTE.

The Way Going Forward

Logically assigning a permanent IP address to each device will simplify identity and access management and enable a unified view and control of dispersed IoT assets. The simplest way to do this is to connect the device to a middle-mile network that assigns and maintains a permanent, virtual IP address to each device, regardless of its last-mile connectivity provider.

An ideal emerging network infrastructure model driving this digital transformation must have the following features built-in, not as afterthoughts or workarounds:

  • Security for the devices themselves, not just their application data.
  • Ability to seamlessly scale and integrate with dispersed, legacy objects over a low-cost communication media.
  • Zero-touch identity and credential provisioning.
  • Must operate independently of any particular provider of last mile connectivity.
  • Must be cost effective.
  • Security must be agnostic to any hardware host hosting the connectivity to these dispersed objects.

Key Takeaway

Managing geographically-dispersed IoT devices with traditional technologies is a complex endeavor for enterprises. Devices with different connectivity providers and changing IP addresses will require constant upkeep, which is difficult and exposes them to cyberattack.

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